Unlike many women I know, I've never been huge on haircare.
Instead, I abide by a less-is-more philosophy when it comes to my strands. Aside from the necessary maintenance, like shampooing (which may not even be necessary) and the occasional (read: biannual) trim, I tend to channel John Lennon and let it be.
Admittedly, I can only do this because my hair has never been particularly problematic. I'd imagine if it were fussier, I'd have a very different approach to haircare.
Over the past few months, however, I've noticed my hair has… changed. Normally strong and shiny, it's become duller, brittle. Even the texture is different — these days it feels rougher.
Frustrated, I recently reached out to Dhiran Mistry, a stylist at Manhattan's John Barrett Salon, and celebrity stylist and Rowenta Beauty ambassador Josue Perez to help get to the bottom of whatever was causing my hair woes.
Both gave me the same answer: It's seasonal.
Though it never occurred to me that the weather could be to blame (especially now that it's finally spring), it makes perfect sense. We already know colder temps wreak havoc on our skin. Hair, it turns out, is no different.
Revitalizing my mane after winter (especially one as uncharacteristically brutal as this year's was) requires not only treating our damaged strands, but tweaking our routines to ensure our hair stays healthy as the temps rise.
Start practicing your shampoo commercial hair flip, ladies; your locks will look so good it hurts.
It's time to cut your losses.
Why: First things first: Your hair is probably dead. (Sorry.) And contrary to what "The Walking Dead" may have you believe, dead things do not come back to life. The damage sustained over the winter (and at the hands of your blowdryer) is pretty much irreparable.
What to do: If you want to get rid of dry, brittle ends, “now is the time to cut your hair,” according to Mistry. Perez concedes a good chop — we're talking a few inches here — “goes a long way in making the hair look healthier.”
Try: Mistry suggests going for the beloved lob this spring. “It's definitely shorter,” he says, but "still able to be tied back” in the summer.
Insider tip: If you're worried about cutting too much off, don't be. Says Mistry: “Hair grows quickly over the summer because of extra vitamins and nutrients from the sun.” So even if your stylist gets scissor-happy, your locks will grow back soon enough.
Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of moisture.
Why: “Hair restoration is key after a dry winter,” says Perez. 'Nuff said.
What to do: Replenish all the lacking moisture with a deep-conditioning treatment. It won't fix what's already broken (see above), but it will restore moisture to dried strands and prevent future damage.
Try: Mistry recommends using “weekly or monthly masque treatments at home,” such as Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Treatment, which, he says, “restores health to hair.” Perez likes the more affordable but equally effective MoroccanOil Restorative Hair Mask.
Insider tip: Leave the mask in your hair overnight (wrapped in a shower cap) for super-silky strands. Says Mistry, “wrapping will help contain the heat,” which “helps the masque penetrate the hair shaft.”
You've got to feed the beast.
Why: Just like the skin on your face and body, during “the winter months, the scalp gets super dry,” explains Mistry. Blasting your skull with the blowdryer, unsurprisingly, does not help.
What to do: Care for a dry scalp the same way you would dry skin: moisturizer (keep in mind, however, your trusty Lubriderm won't work here).
Try: “I would definitely recommend a scalp treatment,” Mistry says. He suggests “Shu Uemura Essential drops, [which] exfoliate and nourish the scalp.” Another we love? Aveda's "Dry Remedy" Daily Moisturizing Oil.
Insider tip: It's a splurge, but if you can afford it, try Restorsea's Revitalizing Scalp Treatment. Not only does it hydrate the scalp — it actually helps hair grow, thanks to a mélange of high-tech ingredients (like Hesperidin) to stimulate blood flow and clear dead cells out of the hair follicles.
Protect your assets.
Why: Now it's warmer, chances are you'll be spending more time outside. (Yay!) Unfortunately, Mistry cautions, “staying in the sun dries [the hair] out.” And prolonged exposure to salt and sand only adds to the sun's “dry and damaging effects on the hair.” (Boo!)
What to do: Prevent damage the way mama taught you: with sunscreen. Look for specially-formulated hair products with UVA/ UVB protection.
Try: Pre-sun, prime your strands with SPF. Try Nios Shield Hair Gel and Leave In Conditioner SPF 15 or Dessange Paris Color Protecting Top Coat Serum with UV filters.
Insider tip: In a pinch, a wide-brimmed hat will keep you covered (and lookin' chic as hell).
Fifth Step: Maintain
Why: “Your hair will be producing more of its natural oils as it gets more humid out,” Perez explains. So forget your winter routine -- those heavy products will only weigh down your hair come spring and summer.
What to do: “Switch to lighter shampoos, conditioners, serums and styling sprays,” Perez suggests. “Too much moisture in the hair, combined with the humid weather, will cause your hair to look greasy more quickly.”
Try: Basically any lightweight formula will do the trick — we're partial to love Desert Essence Italian Lemon Shampoo and Conditioner because it smells like you just stepped down from heaven. Another fave: Alterna Haircare Bamboo Beach Summer Ocean Waves Spray, a lightweight salt spray (with UV protection!) to create perfect fresh-from-the-beach waves.
Insider tip: If your hair does get greasy, Perez recommends using a boar bristle brush, which “will bring the natural oils from your scalp down to the ends that likely need extra hydration.”